Two months on from the latest Intelligent Transport System World Congress in Melbourne and I still can’t believe the progress the industry’s made in just a year since Bordeaux.
What seemed like a crowded field of concepts and early trials in 2015 has become a global phenomenon with increasing real world impact that suggests ‘smart cities’ are here to stay. This tends to happen with technology of course, but ITS is not only complex to get right, but sets all sorts of challenges when you try to embed it into major infrastructure like roads and rails in busy developed cities.
I wasn’t the only one impressed. Along with the other 11,000 people attending locally and from around the world taking in 278 exhibits, 200 sessions and over a 1,000 talks, including my 4 Arcadis colleagues and I whom presented 5 papers and a special interest session on Asset Management.
Like everyone in ITS, Arcadis is deeply involved in the promise of 4 big trends driving ITS demand-Autonomous Vehicles or AVs, Big Data, Intelligent Sensors and Smart City technologies-and we’re working on applications of all 4 in projects with clients right around the world.
That’s not to say as an industry, we still don’t have some way to go before they’re perfected and deployed everywhere or having a practical impact on congestion, integrated transport, public transit, road safety or commuter behaviour. In fact there’s still a whirl of ideas going on in ITS. Key pieces of the puzzle may be well on the way but how soon or well they get applied commercially is the big question.
For example when will electric and driverless cars move from niche to mainstream or how soon can we expect seamless Big Data delivery, analysis and action? Other major barriers are with governments and city planners who have to grapple with implementing these technologies over a long time line while keeping the public onside as they do.
I was highly encouraged however, by the presence of manufacturers, researchers, students and public sector representatives clearly all pushing toward the idea of smarter cities. And that speaks to a sea change in opinion, commitment and collaboration.
We live in interesting times on the brink of a transport technology disruption that will have a far-reaching impact on how we fund and service our travel demands.
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